Desire Juta was born and raised in our beautiful Bay, raising 3 children before relocating to East London, where she now resides, following her lifelong dream of being an artist.
For years Desire spent her time in the creative field. From dressmaking, to owning a craft and then quilt store, she still always felt herself yearning for more. Picking up a paintbrush for the first time 4 years ago changed her life and she has not looked back since.
Love My Bay had the privilege of chatting to the incredibly talented Des about her journey to art and where it has taken her.
LMB: You only started painting 4 years ago – what was your inspiration to start?
I always wanted to paint but I was too scared to even try. I really just did not see myself being good at it. Then one day I needed a birthday gift for the love of my life.
His son had taken a beautiful photo of him fishing which I really wanted to capture on canvas, so I decided not to overthink but rather just do. I bought the materials needed and had my friend Chantal Fielding assist me with some painting lessons which honestly changed my life.
The saying “The rest is history” is really the case with me and I have found a confidence within myself through art that I never could have imagined.
I now find myself thinking of painting, dreaming up new ideas, watching online tutorials etc. constantly. I feel driven to rush into my studio as soon as I can every morning. I think it is safe to say that painting is in my blood now.
LMB: Your talent is really outstanding. Did you do classes or was it something you found just came naturally for you?
My initial introduction to painting was with Chantal Fielding. After that I moved to East London and joined Wayne Blom’s classes. I was also fortunate to do a few workshops with Elize Bezuidenhout.
I do however believe that I was given this talent by God and that it is my duty to honour him by showing up to the canvas and learn as much as I can.
LMB: You have released a few different collections. Tell us a bit about the Musicians and how you decided who you would paint and why?
I love old school rock, live performances, and can watch a guitarist’s hands for hours. I have painted the following performers basically because they have always been my all-time favorites.
What’s not to love about Freddie? I have long admired his music but finally seeing the movie Queen really made me think of him as more than just an incredible performer.
I enjoyed his personality in the movie and was fascinated by his confidence. Some may call it arrogance; I think to believe in yourself the way he did must be so liberating. He was the first musician in the collection and once I finished that piece I knew I couldn’t stop.
My favorite Bob Marley quote is “Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s everything in between that makes it all worth living.”
I absolutely relate to this as I have had a few new beginnings and sad endings in my life, so although I am more into rock and metal, I could not resist adding this colourful character to the collection.
Jon Bon Jovi
My all-time hero. I must be his biggest fan; I actually feel guilty for not painting him first. The amazing thing about Bon Jovi’s music is that there is a song for every emotion, every mood. My life without Bon Jovi would not be the same.
I sold Jon as soon as I finished painting him. As much as I was elated over the sale I felt sad enough to do another one of him.
“You can’t start a fire without a spark”, well my spark was lit with this one. “The Boss”was a big favorite back in the day. I painted him on request for a client and honestly enjoyed painting it so much that I actually painted it twice as well.
Keith is beautiful, I could not help but be in awe of his love and passion for his art. To still be performing the way he does at his age tells a story of its own.
He can’t help himself, it’s in his blood. To look at his hands and the way he so lovingly holds his guitar even though he must be in pain every time he plays is truly a humbling and moving experience.
I was filled with love, compassion and above all respect for him while I was studying his hands. Not to mention that he was/is a maverick after my own heart.
One of my all-time favourites. To find a reference picture for him was quite a challenge. The majority of what I could find showed him hot, sweaty and shirtless. Definitely a brilliant example of old school rock and roll although his newer releases are magical too.
Slash is an excellent guitarist, brilliant performer, rather exciting to look at and most certainly one of the colourful characters in the music industry.
I loved the reference photo so much that there was no holding me back.
LMB: The Fishermen of Paternoster has been a wonderful collection to see develop. What is your process when deciding what to paint next for this range?
Adrian Venter keeps taking the most beautiful photos. Sometimes they inspire me enough to cause sleepless nights. I get to those as soon as I can, other times I browse through some of his older photographs and see things that were previously unnoticed, again sending me rushing to the easel.
I always look forward to his next batch of photos and I am so grateful to him for allowing me to use them as reference for my paintings.
LMB: Another collection is the wildlife of South Africa – do you intend to add to this range?
I long to get back to my animal range. I really enjoyed working on the series so yes, I do plan on adding to it in the future.
LMB:What is your preferred method of painting materials? Oils, acrylic or a mixture of both?
I love painting in oil. I have very limited experience in acrylic and must admit that oil will always be my first choice.
LMB: Each piece you paint holds such life and a story – do you have any favourites you have painted?
I have too many favourites among my art pieces. I bond with most of them and sometimes you actually feel a loss when they sell. However, I have kept very few of my pieces for myself.
My personal favourite, which I gave to my daughter, was a piece based on my own inspiration. I painted it in the very early days of my painting journey, so obviously it’s not my best, however to this day it remains one of my favourites. It was painted from a photo I have treasured for years. This gorgeous, colourful child in the painting must surely be my little inner child.
The painting also reminds me so of the precious little girls that I was fortunate enough to have in my life.
My gorgeous nieces for sure. My first born daughter, beautiful with her rosy cheeks and blue eyes and my second born wildling, bush baby, the most creative dresser that was forever on some very important mission or other. The painting seems to encompass all these personalities in one picture and that is why it is my favourite.
LMB: You offer commission work including personalised portraits of people – what should people expect to pay for a commissioned portrait?
I love working on commissions but it is quite difficult to give a ballpark price. Commission work price depends on factors such as size and detail the piece will require so I prefer consulting with each client individually before giving a price.
LMB: Any advice you can give others wanting to start painting? For example, how costly it is and the amount of patience it requires?
If you find yourself with a desire to start painting I urge you to just do it! I waited 50 years before I was brave enough to try it. Please don’t do that. Start as soon as you can.
Regarding cost, as with any hobby, you can work out a cost effective way to support your passion. The best bet would probably be to contact a teacher who can advise you on the minimum materials to buy for starters. As you gain experience you will see what else you need or want to add.
As for the amount of patience required, I am probably the world’s most impatient person. Any artist will tell you that patience, perseverance and persistence, definitely are key for growth. I work on multiple projects simultaneously to avoid wasting time while paint dries.
LMB: What future collections or projects can we expect to see from Art by DesJ in the next few months?
Right now I am yearning to paint flowers and quite a few other subjects. I haven’t quite formulated a plan for the next year yet while I get the fishermen of Paternoster out of my system, but I definitely would like to start with a few flowers before I get back to the “Evolution of Eve” Collection which I am also starting to build slowly.
I dream of one day being able to open up an artist run gallery combined studio.
LMB: How many hours a day do you paint and favourite time of day to paint?
I spend roughly 7 to 8 hours a day painting and can definitely say I am most creative and energetic in the mornings. I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get into my studio. To see a painting evolve from sketch phase, through the ugly duckling phase into something beautiful is the most fulfilling experience.
LMB: Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring you at the moment?
Elize Bezuidenhout for her wonderfully realistic portraits
Dawie Mocke for his wildlife paintings
Mynderd Vosloo for his fishermen in Hondeklip Bay series
Kim Black flowers are currently a huge inspiration
My mentor, Wayne Blom’s for his Ngunis
I would love to explore mixed media as I am fascinated by it.
Love My Bay loves connecting with our local community – read more interviews : Love My Bay interviews Lizelle Knott Founder of “This is Me” • Interview with Ali Ncume • Lorna and Rikus Romer from Scope Oils